Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Television’ Category

If you haven’t seen this short segment, take a couple minutes to watch before reading further.  It’s quite entertaining 🙂

Well who could help being intrigued by devout atheist Bill Maher being in the lineup of Stephen Colbert, a practicing Catholic and outspoken defender of religion (both traits being anomalies in modern entertainment, to be sure).

As you can see, only a small fraction of the Maher segment dealt with religion.  But what little of the “big R” did show up packed more than enough “punch” for a spirited discussion, so here comes my response.

First, we’ll deal with the following statement:

I do admit there are things in the universe I don’t understand.  But my response to that is not to make up silly stories.

Notice that this response does not address the whole of what Colbert said.  (more…)

Read Full Post »

A few of my favorites/honorable mentions, listed in no particular order…

Saving Private Ryan

We Were Soldiers

American Sniper

Unbroken

Glory

Trailer Link (Turner Classic Movies): http://i.cdn.turner.com/v5cache/TCM/cvp/container/mediaroom_embed.swf?context=embed&videoId=1091318

Band of Brothers

Trailer Link (Internet Movie Database): http://www.imdb.com/video/imdb/vi3629711385/imdb/embed?autoplay=false&width=480

Read Full Post »

For those of you who weren’t aware, Fr. Robert Barron, whom I’ve admired and followed for years now and whose videos I have often shared on this blog, was recently appointed an auxiliary bishop of Los Angeles.  Hence, Into the Dance extends hearty congratulations to him!

Bishop Barron was one of the commentators on MSNBC’s coverage of Pope Francis’ Mass in Philadelphia, along with Brian Williams, Chris Matthews, and Notre Dame professor Kathleen Sprows Cummings.  In this short segment of the commentary, he offers a very concise, charitable, and brilliant defense of priestly celibacy within the Church.  Take a look!

Read Full Post »

Whew!  Ever wish life didn’t keep you so busy?  I sure do — if only so that I could blog more often.

I intend to get back into the proverbial saddle over the next couple months (especially since next month marks the three-year anniversary of “Into the Dance”), and I thought I’d offer a quick look at some of the post topics I plan to cover (not necessarily in this order):

1. True Detective

TrueDetectiveDVDCoverI recently “binge-watched” the first season of the HBO series True Detective.  While disturbing at times, the show is artistically excellent and very profound.  I have a lot to say about it, especially with regard its treatment of marriage, manhood, family, and existence.

2. The Rosary

RosaryOctober is the Month of the Rosary, one of the most beautiful and powerful treasures of the Catholic Faith.  Before the month is out I’d like to share a few things about this prayer, and hopefully answer questions people might have (feel free to leave some in the comment section here, if you’d like).

3. Drug/Alcohol Awareness

HeroinOctober is also when “Red Ribbon Week,” which is dedicated to drug and alcohol addiction awareness, falls.  I used to work in this field myself (in the prevention department), and I do have some insights I’d like to offer — not only for those addicted to alcohol or illegal drugs, but also for anyone who might be caught in the midst of addictive habits that may seem deceptively harmless in and of themselves.

Last but not least…

4. My New Blog

question mark

I intend to embark on the adventure of starting a for-profit blog in the very near future.  I will post a link and detailed description when the blog is up and running.  Until then, I won’t say too much about it…but here’s a hint: If you have children, relatives, pupils, friends, or other acquaintances on the autism spectrum — or if you yourself are on the spectrum — you may be interested.

That’s all for now.  Thanks for stopping by, and God bless 🙂

*********************************************************************************************************************

Acknowledgements

1. “TrueDetectiveDVDCover” by Source. Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:TrueDetectiveDVDCover.jpg#/media/File:TrueDetectiveDVDCover.jpg

2. “An Egyptian Rosary with a Coptic Cross, 2010” by Silar – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:An_Egyptian_Rosary_with_a_Coptic_Cross,_2010.JPG#/media/File:An_Egyptian_Rosary_with_a_Coptic_Cross,_2010.JPG

3. “Anal Heroin” by Psychonaught – Own work. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Anal_Heroin.jpg#/media/File:Anal_Heroin.jpg

4. “Question opening-closing” by Vadmium – Own work. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Question_opening-closing.svg#/media/File:Question_opening-closing.svg

Read Full Post »

For parts one through three, click here John_Paul_II_1980_cropped Although we have covered some important aspects of Pope St. John Paul II’s “Theology of the Body,” one might wonder precisely how the sexual roles of men and women differ according to God’s original plan.

Essentially, the man is the “active” partner who makes a gift of himself from without, bringing with him the “seed of life”; the woman, meanwhile, is the “receptive” partner who welcomes the man into her “inner sanctuary,” from whence life can emerge.  But lest you think this diminishes the role of the woman, be aware that there is an active and passive component in the roles of both partners.  Each affirms and reinforces the other.

Unfortunately, as discussed in part two, human sexuality is affected by Original Sin.  In the man, the gift can easily become an intrusion; in the woman, the welcoming embrace can become a seductive form of entrapment. Daenerys_Targaryen_with_Dragon-Emilia_ClarkeDaenerys “Dany” Targaryen (Emilia Clarke), arguably the strongest and most iconic female character in Game of Thrones, becomes a victim of that first impulse early in the first season. khal drogoShe is given in an arranged marriage to Khal Drogo (Jason Momoa), the ruthless leader of the nomadic Dothraki people.  At first, he treats Dany as another one of his conquests.  Their marriage is consummated not in lovemaking, but in rape.

Eventually, this changes.  Dany and Drogo actually fall in love.  Drogo, for his part, learns tenderness, and becomes something of a gentler person.  He learns to treat Dany as someone to be treasured rather than something to be possessed.

How does this happen? Dany faceThe change begins in season 1, episode 2.  Drogo and Dany are in their private tent, and Drogo is about to proceed as per usual.  Dany turns to face him, looking him directly in the eye, and says:

“Tonight I would look upon your face.”

This is very important.  Of all the human body’s various members, the face is generally recognized as the one least affected by the Fall.  When we look at a human face, we see the person revealed — the unique, unrepeatable, and inestimably precious subject made in the image and likeness of Almighty God.  In being brought face-to-face with Dany, Drogo, along with all others who would perpetrate acts of violence and injustice upon their victims and “conquests,” is confronted with a kind of judgment.

Here it would be helpful to return to the thought of Pope John Paul II; referencing the great Jewish philosopher Emmanuel Levinas and his “philosophy of the face,” he comments thus:

It is through his face that man speaks, and in particular, every man who has suffered a wrong speaks and says the words “Do not kill me!”  The human face and the commandment “Do not kill” are ingeniously enjoined in Levinas, and thus become a testimony for our age… (from the book Crossing the Threshold of Hope, ed. Vittorio Messori; italics included)

We can say the same for the Sixth and Ninth Commandments, which cover sexual conduct.

Okay — so the face reveals the person.  But the personal is never abstract.  What the face reveals is the human self in its masculinity or femininity, depending on whether the subject is a man or a woman.  Dany’s effect on Drogo shows the power of a peculiarly feminine way of responding mercifully to aggressors, and calls to mind such wonderful women in Church history as St. Monica, the mother of St. Augustine.

That’s not to say that Dany is a saint.  One could spend a considerable length of time on her character and its evolution over the course of the series (one of these days I hope to return to the “Kingship and Power” series that I began, and abandoned, a couple years ago; that would be a good place to take a closer look at Dany).  But in this case, she does well.  Whether author George R.R. Martin knows it or not, her response to Drogo is pregnant with potential for spiritual significance.

So there are my thoughts on different aspects of how sex is used in Game of Thrones.  I am a firm believer that one cannot fairly criticize the vices of a TV show or movie without at the same time being prepared to acknowledge its virtues.  Charity, after all, rejoices in goodness wherever it can be found.

That said, I want to restate my belief that the sex in Game of Thrones is gratuitous and unnecessary.  It caters to a human preoccupation, for sure — not with sexuality, but with pornography.  Perhaps if they were aware of the statistics and studies on the real effects of pornographic material on the psychological and social well-being of individuals and families, they would showcase human skin and coitus with at least a little less ease. And now I’m done.  Thanks for reading 🙂 *********************************************************************************************************************

Acknowledgements

1. “John Paul II 1980 cropped” by Fels_Papst.JPG: Nikolaus von Nathusiusderivative work: JJ Georges – This file was derived from: Fels Papst.JPG:. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:John_Paul_II_1980_cropped.JPG#/media/File:John_Paul_II_1980_cropped.JPG

2. “Daenerys Targaryen with Dragon-Emilia Clarke” by Uploaded by TAnthony. Via Wikipedia – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Daenerys_Targaryen_with_Dragon-Emilia_Clarke.jpg#/media/File:Daenerys_Targaryen_with_Dragon-Emilia_Clarke.jpg

Remaining images obtained through a Google image search

Read Full Post »

Episode 6 scene 15

Episode 6 scene 15

For parts one and two, click here

If you love Game of Thrones, chances are you love Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage).  But let’s face it: His popularity doesn’t do much to foster a healthy sense of morality in our society.

Take Tyrion, a whoring, cussing, imbibing, lustful dwarf who is at the same time charming and compassionate, and put him against the background of a bunch of  lying, scheming, murdering, brutal scoundrels (his own father, Tywin Lannister, among them), and people will naturally prefer Tyrion.  Not only that, his sins will seem excusable, minor, or even non-existent by comparison.

No Merchandising. Editorial Use Only. No Book Cover Usage  Mandatory Credit: Photo by HBO/Everett/REX_Shutterstock (4705667g)  Peter Dinklage, 'The Wars To Come', (Season 5, ep. 01)  Game of Thrones - 2015

No Merchandising. Editorial Use Only. No Book Cover Usage
Mandatory Credit: Photo by HBO/Everett/REX_Shutterstock (4705667g)
Peter Dinklage, ‘The Wars To Come’, (Season 5, ep. 01)
Game of Thrones – 2015

Okay…there’s a lot we can say about Tyrion.  He is witty.  He is charming.  He has a gentler heart by far than 99% of the show’s many characters.  But he is, for a good portion of the show, a man of lust.

It would be useful, however, to ask why he seeks happiness in sex with sundry women.  Is it simply shameless self-indulgence, or is there something else going on here?

Tyrion-Bronn-ShaeThink back to season one, episode nine — specifically, the scene in which Tyrion drinks and swaps stories with the sellsword Bronn (Jerome Flynn) and the prostitute Shae (Sibel Kikilli).  In the course of their interactions, Tyrion reveals that he was married at age 16 to a woman with whom, in the naivete of youth, he had fallen in love (or so he thought).  But not long after, he learned that it was all a setup.  The woman was a hired prostitute. Tyrion’s father even forced him to watch as Lannister guardsmen had sex with her.

LannistersAnd this is only the tip of the iceberg.  Eventually, we learn that Tyrion’s mother died giving birth to him; for that reason, and because he was a stunted dwarf from birth, he has incurred the lifelong ire of his family (with the exception of his brother, Jaime).  His own father flatly tells him that he wanted to throw him into the sea as a baby, but spared his life only…

(. . .) because you’re a Lannister.

Evil does not subsist in itself.  Evil is to good what the cavity is to the tooth.  It’s existence is entirely parasitic.  Therefore, every form of evil depends on a particular form of good, and every sin  is a misdirected desire for something good.

Tyrion_ShaeSo what good is Tyrion looking for, consciously or unconsciously?  I think it’s safe to say he is looking for love.  Except he’s not going about it the right way, because no one has ever shown him how.

He finally finds love during a brief and secret romance with Shae, which he is forced to end in order to protect the latter’s life.  Unaware of Tyrion’s motives and deeply hurt, Shae turns against him.  During a trial (presided over by none other than Tywin Lannister) in which Tyrion is charged with a crime he didn’t commit, she stands witness against him.  Later, when Tyrion breaks out of his prison cell on the eve of his scheduled execution, he discovers that she is sleeping with his father.

And he kills her.  Hardly the act of a genuine lover, but no doubt he had experienced something with her that, of all of his experiences, most closely approximated the “real thing.”

Tyrion in VolantisOkay — fast forward a bit: Tyrion has fled to the vast eastern continent of Essos and ended up at a brothel in the city of Volantis.  He approaches an attractive young prostitute, strikes up a conversation, gains her interest, and is about to go with her to a secluded room.

But at just that moment, he is surprised to discover that he can’t do it.  He does not appear to be upset about it — it is simply a new fact of life for him.

What can we make of this, precisely?  In order to explore the possibilities suggested by this question, I turn once more to Pope St. John Paul II’s “Theology of the Body.”

John_Paul_II_1980_cropped

In the address titled “Dominion over the Other in the Interpersonal Relation,” the late Holy Father expressed a profound insight that I will try my best to summarize.

In forfeiting their relationship with God, our first parents also seriously compromised their relationship with one another.  No longer could they enjoy that same deep, intense, personal, self-giving union that they enjoyed in Eden, because sin has introduced the element of selfishness into their relations.  Hence we have the phenomenon of lust, which is “insatiable” because the genuine goal of human sexuality by nature eludes it.  Seeking pleasure in the indulgence of sexual appetite for its own sake, as Tyrion does for most of his adult life, is much like seeking relief from an itch by constantly scratching at it: It provides momentary relief from — one might even substitute the word “forgetfulness of” — the problem, but does nothing to solve it; in fact, it only makes the problem worse.

Tyrion on trial I think it’s safe to say that Tyrion has finally realized this.  The experience of true love has shed light on a void within him that he now realizes cannot possibly be filled by random sex.

Sorry, but I was wrong again.  I’ll need four posts rather than three.  We’ll cover Dany next time.

**************************************************************

Top image of Tyrion and image of Pope John Paul II from wikipedia — full citations:

1. “Tyrion Lannister-Peter Dinklage” by Uploaded by TAnthony. Via Wikipedia – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Tyrion_Lannister-Peter_Dinklage.jpg#/media/File:Tyrion_Lannister-Peter_Dinklage.jpg

2. “John Paul II 1980 cropped” by Fels_Papst.JPG: Nikolaus von Nathusiusderivative work: JJ Georges – This file was derived from: Fels Papst.JPG:. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:John_Paul_II_1980_cropped.JPG#/media/File:John_Paul_II_1980_cropped.JPG

Remaining images obtained through a Google image search

Read Full Post »

logo-thrones-burning-game-hunt

I want to begin by referencing an article by a man with whom I am proud to share a first name: Daniel Stewart.  In “‘Why is that woman naked?’: Sources of Objectification in Game of Thrones,” he argues that the HBO series portrays sex essentially as a tool of power:

In the world of Game of Thrones, power is the only thing that matters. Love is pointless at best. Honor is a joke. Virtue is an illusion.

(…)

In this world where physical strength, monetary wealth, and political influence are the only qualities worth having, it is no wonder the women (especially poor women) are treated so poorly.  (. . .) [The typical female character] is left with two options; [sic] to suffer terribly at the hands of more powerful men or to use her shrewdness or sexual prowess to try to influence the men around her.

Erik_Erikson Upon reading this, I was reminded of Erik Erikson’s observations regarding sexuality’s roots in very early childhood, as well as the differences in how unhealthy approaches to sexuality — which is nothing more than the excitement of “being on the make” at that age (Erikson 255, parentheses included) — manifest themselves in boys and girls.  “In the boy,” says Erikson…

…the emphasis remains on phallic-intrusive modes; in the girl it turns to modes of “catching” (…) or (…) making oneself attractive and endearing.

(255, italics mine)

However people’s views on sexuality and gender relations may differ, this is clearly the way the “game of sex” is played in Game of Thrones.

GoT-Theon-crying-500x333Theon Greyjoy (Alfie Allen) is forced to watch as his foster sister, Sansa Stark, is raped

Think of the prolonged portrayal (mostly via sound), in a recent episode, of the rape of eighteen-year-old Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner) at the hands of a ruthless husband to whom she has been given in an arranged marriage.  Clearly, we have the peculiarly masculine form of sexual sin (at its worst) on display here.

Sex as a power tool should appall everyone but astonish no one.  If someone wants to dominate another person, what better way to do so than by rape?  After all, to dominate the body is to dominate the person (at least, as nearly as humanly possible).

As many will have no doubt noticed, the aforementioned scene has sparked outrage among the show’s fans.  While people are indeed right to decry the rape of a young woman (and even, perhaps, its insensitive portrayal in a TV show), part of me wants to cry out: “What did you expect?”  Create a world, populate it almost entirely with characters who are obsessed with power, and mix in the careless — not to mention tasteless — treatment and portrayal of sex, and the latter two are bound to “mate” before long.

MelisandreBut, as my reference to Erikson might suggest, there is a more “feminine” version of this as well.  Think of Melisandre (Carice Van Houten), the seductive “Red Priestess,” who uses her sexual desirability to manipulate powerful men for her purposes.  Here we have the peculiarly feminine form of the use of sex as a power tool.

And then of course we also get, as they say, “all sorts of strange animals in between.”

Which of the above examples has sparked more outrage?  That’s right, the first one.  Again, it should spark outrage — don’t misunderstand me.  But the assumption that only when it involves the aggressive violence of rape is pornographic material objectionable can blind us to the fact that human sexuality is very much like fire: Splendid, beautiful, powerful, and necessary…but also very dangerous, and in need of being “contained.”

Readers and viewers who espouse a more traditional morality will pine for what is often seen as Game of Thrones‘ counterpart in the fantasy/adventure world: J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, which has nothing like the former’s candid material.  But leaving that aside for the moment, let us note another key difference between the two: Tolkien drew his inspiration primarily from myth; George R.R. Martin, author of the novel series on which Game of Thrones is based, draws his inspiration primarily from history.

These two differences may have more to do with one another than one might think.  I’ll pick up with that in the next post.

Erikson photo from Wikipedia — full reference:

“Erik Erikson” by ?Original uploader was Waveformula at en.wikipedia – http://www.wpclipart.com/famous/psychology/Erik_Erikson_2.png.htmlTransferred from en.wikipediaImage comes from WP Clipart[1] which ONLY features public domain images and provides extensive source information on their “Legal” page: [2]. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Erik_Erikson.png#/media/File:Erik_Erikson.png

Remaining images obtained through a Google image search

Reference

Erikson, E.H.  Childhood and Society  2nd ed.  NY: Norton, 1963

Read Full Post »

NOTE: As in previous posts, I have embedded the entire video for aesthetic purposes only.  Feel free to watch that if you wish (the first 10 minutes consist of a preview of the “Catholicism” series as a whole), but for the beginning of this particular episode — titled “The Church: Christ’s Mystical Body” — click here.

Please enjoy the video, whether you are a Catholic seeking to delve deeper into the Faith or a non-Catholic person who is interested in learning more about the Catholic Church, even if only from a cultural or sociological perspective.

(Before you watch, I just need to make a quick note about the Crusades and the Inquisition: These were more complicated affairs than what has been presented to us over the centuries, and I think Fr. Barron was probably just unaware of some of the relevant research when filming this episode.

I am not saying this as a defensive Catholic trying to construe Catholic history as spotless and pristine.  Believe me, it is a fact that Catholics at all levels of Church life and hierarchy have done strange, terrible, and unconscionable things over the past two millennia.  But I would be remiss if I did not offer clarification in those particular areas where clarification is necessary.  But that’s all a matter for another post.)

Read Full Post »

…he’d say something like this:

Ron Swanson_LentCourtesy of Matt Swaim

Read Full Post »

It’s Friday night, so I thought I’d have a little fun.  Here is a clip of Kevin Spacey on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon,” doing some pretty hilarious impersonations.

(Just a forewarning: There are some “bleeped-out” obscenities — one 41 seconds into the video, the other at 3 minutes and 52 seconds.)

Read Full Post »

« Newer Posts - Older Posts »